World Cup Player Profile: Stephan Lichtsteiner

Alex Grimm

With the World Cup now a matter of days away, we profile the Juventus players who will feature in Brazil.

One of the hardest working winger/wingback combo players in the world of football, Stephan Lichtsteiner finally gets to make his debut on the greatest stage, the World Cup. At 30 years of age, he is at the prime of his powers and we can expect to see him at his best in Brazil following yet another good season for Juventus as well. He should be pretty fresh, considering he made the fewest appearances of his career since 2006 this season, though those were due to injuries more than anything else.

Lichtsteiner, nicknamed 'Forrest Gump' while at Lazio for his dam-busting runs down the right wing, actually completed an internship to become a banker while at Grasshoppers Zurich (we know, how predictable, a Swiss banker). Luckily he seemed to enjoy tormenting left backs more than accountants and stuck with football, eventually moving to Lille in France for three seasons. After a stellar Euro 2008 for Switzerland, he signed with Lazio and won the Coppa Italia with the Biancocelesti  in his three-year tenure there. When Antonio Conte took over at Juventus, the wingback was one of the first players he brought in to implement his 3-5-2 scheme which led to three consecutive Serie A titles, and as they say, the rest has all been history.

Also nicknamed The Swiss Express, he has been an important part of the attack for Juve working in tandem with Kwadwo Asamoah on the other wing. He is also renowned for his late runs into the box, often shadowing Arturo Vidal and has benefited from Andrea Pirlo's amazing abilities to drop the ball behind the backline. He replicated that as recently as this week for the Swiss team scoring in a friendly, showing off his heading skills again.

Switzerland
Defender
Caps: 63, Goals: 5
Group E

Stephan Lichtsteiner

Service for Switzerland: For La Nati, Lichtsteiner has always played at rightback. He has 63 appearances to his name, with five goals and five assists from those. Manager Ottmar Hitzfeld is a wily veteran and has molded his bunch of youngsters and veterans into a strong bunch, with the Swiss climbing up to an impressive 6th in the FIFA rankings.

What makes him interesting: While his barnstorming runs are always a joy to watch, keep an eye out for him to slip his man off the ball and make a deep break down the right. Left backs of mediocre vision beware, he can dribble around you, blast by you or sneak past you.

What to expect in Brazil: Switzerland are the seeded team in Group E, but undoubtedly all eyes will be on France and their stars Franck Ribéry, Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann. Watch out though, as players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka are up and coming names looking for just a tournament like this to make their mark, while captain Gökhan Inler and Valon Behrami (both of Napoli) are the midfield engine on this squad.

The other two teams Honduras and Ecuador might find the conditions in Brazil more to their liking, but despite their experienced squads, will find it difficult to beat either the Swiss or the French sides. Look for Lichtsteiner to nab at least a goal against the two weaker teams, and have his hands full against the French in defence. The key game will be when the two European sides play in the second match day for the group - with the loser taking on Argentina in the next round and the winner facing a relatively less daunting prospect in Bosnia, Nigeria or Iran. With a bit of luck and precision, the Swiss could find themselves in the quarter finals.

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